Rick is a baker who works with his three friends Airy, Neris and Emil. His bread is the best in town and people come from all over to buy it up. When on an errand to buy ingredients, the group hews close to the border with the forboding Elven forest. After helping an injured selph, an elf admonishes them and rejects their offer of bread, angering Emil. Another, friendlier elf named Rana bids them forgive her icy brother, and gladly takes the bread. A red moon that hangs over the night sky portends a big storm ahead.
We’ll get this out of the way: we only broke open Shining Hearts on a whim. Before yesterday we’d never heard of the Shining franchise, or the PSP game upon which this series is based. We do know director Kawasaki Itsuro from one of his previous works: Chrome Shelled Regios, a manic series best described as dumb but entertaining. We definitely noticed some stylistic similarities. Unlike Regios, which started with a bang, Shining Hearts takes the quiet, deliberate, slice-of-life route to introduce us to the characters and setting, both of which came off as, well, a bit bland. The delicious-looking bread steals the show, as Rick (or Rikku) kind of just goes about his business.
His somewhat ridiculous harem conveniently consists of a blonde (also a nun), a brunette, and a redhead; unsurprisingly, the redhead is the fiery one. Rick lives on a beached ship, which is kinda cool. Their land is placid and green, not unlike Ireland, and the fantasy elements introduced include your standard elves (one affable, one aloof), a weird creature called a selph, and that portentious red moon. You could also count the bread, which may also have some kind of magical power (unless it’s just drugs). Neither an awful nor inspiring start – this is what 2.5 ratings were made for!